Narcissist, hysteric or ranger. Does that sound familiar? Colourful expressions that have become familiar in our vocabulary when we want to give someone an ugly reproach towards how they are behaving. In fact, their origin is far more fundamental. Personality disorders significantly affect a person’s life, and affect an estimated 10% of the people around us. Others are impacted by living with them, having children with disorders or working with someone with a personality disorder. No matter which group you belong to, you don’t have to be alone with your difficulties. Psychotherapy is an opportunity to learn to manage your emotions and heal interpersonal relationships.

What are personality disorders?

Personality disorders are diverse types of deviations from a normal personality. Usually, some of their features are so pronounced that they can negatively affect the quality of life of both the person and his or her loved ones.

What are the most common personality disorders? And how do they differ from each other?

It is difficult to determine with certainty which types of personality disorders are most common in the population. However, it seems to be primarily obsessive-compulsivec, paranoid or emotionally unstable personality disorders. They are all very different from each other, depending on what personality traits dominate the individual. Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder is characterized by perfectionism, need for control, and cognitive rigidity. The paranoid personality is distrustful, to the point of being hostile. The individual often analyzes the hidden meanings of what someone has said, and perceives them as a personal attack. In contrast, an emotionally unstable personality is very involved in relationships. These relationships often manifest themselves in conflict, relationships are very intense, but do not last very long. A borderline type of emotionally unstable personality disorder is also known. Bordeline Personality Disorder is experienced in relationships as both a fear of closeness and an anxiety of abandonment. Similarly unique are other types of personality disorders, such as schizoid, dissocial, histrionic, avoidant, or dependent personality disorders.

How does a personality disorder manifest itself? How do I know that I have a personality disorder?

Personality disorders are most often revealed in relationships. It is there that people suffering from some type of personality disorder usually experience the greatest losses. Their relationships are problematic and unsatisfactory, some feel threatened by them, others are dependent on them and in some cases, it is a combination of both. Already emphasized personality traits will intensify in difficult life situations. The ability to cope with a crisis is often times more difficult for a person with a personality disorder.

Available online personality tests are a suitable orientation tool to determine your profile. They will help us to name what we are emotionally and mentally inclined to, and what influences this has on our behavior. However, a complete diagnosis is performed only by an expert, most often a clinical psychologist. It is a comprehensive psychological examination that includes an interview, anamnesis, questionnaire or projective methods.

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How are personality disorders treated?

The first-line treatment is psychotherapy. But it is important to set goals and expectations correctly. This is the only way to prevent premature termination of treatment and disappointment. Personality is the mainstay that gives character to our perception of the world and our functioning in it. If it is necessary to intervene in its structure, it is always a long-term process. Medium or short-term psychotherapy helps people with personality disorders to bridge crisis moments. Mood stabilizers, antidepressants or low doses of antipsychotics are used as medication for behavioral disorders. Long-term use is not recommended, the aim is to overcome the temporary deterioration of the mental state.

How does psychotherapy help with the treatment of personality disorders?

Psychotherapy is an important tool when it comes to the treatment of personality disorders. Motivation is key to its successful process. True awareness (that is, that it will be the topic of conversation between the client and the therapist) will help a person to persevere even in the more demanding stages of treatment. Above all, however, a relationship of trust is crucial. This can often be tested by the client, just as other relationships in their life are tested. And it is precisely this therapeutic relationship that will allow a person to slowly and safely abandon those strategies that do not suit their life and replace them with new ones (psychodynamic directions).

How can online psychotherapy help with the treatment of personality disorders?

Online psychotherapy uses all the tools and possibilities of in-person meetings, with the added value  that it connects you with an expert who would otherwise be too far away or difficult for you to access. It is in the case of long-term psychotherapy that this significantly facilitates the entire process. You have your therapist at your fingertips, even when life is unpredictable.

The real story of the client and how the therapy helped them:

“I have always been emotional. I remember the last night before hospitalization, my son came to visit with his daughter-in-law, we had an argument, I don’t even know exactly why, and then the pain in my heart and quick breathing came, I felt like I was going to die. All examinations were negative and I found myself in psychiatry. Psychotherapy was recommended to me there for the first time. It never occurred to me that it would be me who would go to regular sessions. But my psychotherapist was completely different from most doctors, I was afraid unnecessarily. Together, we return to my roots, my childhood, and my complicated relationship with my father. For the first time, I feel that my life not only controls me, but that I can have it in my hands as well.”

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